SC ruling: Lucena mayor out, vice mayor in
Case took 3 years to finish as next polls 5 months awayBy Delfin T. Mallari Jr. |Inquirer Southern Luzon
LUCENA CITY—The Supreme Court (SC) has denied an appeal by the mayor of this city to keep her seat in a case that dragged on for nearly three years and which came to conclusion just five months before the city’s voters again pick who their next mayor would be.
Mayor Barbara Talaga lost her appeal at the high court against a ruling that unseated her for an invalid candidacy. Barbara substituted for her husband, Ramon, who in 2010 came to the end of his term limit but went on to file a certificate of candidacy.
The high court upheld a Commission on Elections (Comelec) ruling declaring that Barbara’s candidacy was as invalid as her husband’s attempt to run for a fourth term. The Constitution limits the stay in office of local officials to three three-year terms.
According to a notice issued by SC clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer on Saturday, the high court, in an en banc session on Nov. 13, issued a resolution denying with finality Talaga’s motion for reconsideration filed on Nov. 6.
The court resolution said “no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the questioned decision.” The court said it would no longer entertain any further pleading.
On Oct. 9. 2012, the SC affirmed a decision of the Comelec en banc on May 20, 2011, that annulled the election and proclamation of Talaga as mayor of Lucena and canceled the certificate of canvass that declared her the winner of the May 10, 2010 election.
The Comelec resolution also granted the petition by Talaga’s vice mayor, Roderick Alcala, asking the court to order Talaga to leave office and install Alcala as mayor.
Alcala said he would wait for the Department of Interior and Local Government to serve an order for Talaga to vacate the mayor’s seat.
Ramon, former mayor and now city administrator, said his camp will not stop Alcala from assuming office as long as
Alcala can present documents ordering him to take over.
“If they could not show us anything, no way,” Ramon said.
Ramon had himself substituted by his wife, Barbara, just six days before the elections in 2010. But the substitution was kept secret from their political foes and the city electorate.
In the final tally, Ramon received 44,099 votes while his opponent, Philip Castillo, a former vice mayor, earned 39,615.
Based on existing election laws on substitution, votes for Ramon are considered votes for his substitute.